Officials Say Oskaloosa Fire is Likely Arson

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OSKALOOSA, Iowa — Fire crews in Oskaloosa worked hard Monday morning to put out a fire at a downtown building.

The fire broke out Monday around 2 a.m. at 208 ½ 1st Avenue East, above the Swims sporting goods store. The owner of Evolution, the upstairs business, told Channel 13 police told her someone broke into her offices and started the fire.

The cause of the fire is suspicious and any criminal investigation that may occur will be handled by the Oskaloosa Police Department.

A male suffering from burns on his hands was taken into custody in connection with the case. Mark Neff, Oskaloosa fire chief, said the man is the suspected arsonist but did not release his name. Neff also said the man admitted to starting the fire when crews arrived.

The man was transferred to University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City. He has not been interviewed by police yet but will be after he is treated for his injuries.

Firefighters were able to contain the fire and keep it from spreading to other buildings.

“I was concerned that is was going to jump the fire wall and take over the whole block,” Neff said.

There were no other injuries beside the ones the suspect sustained.

49 firefighters from Oskaloosa, Pella, New Sharon, Cedar Township, Eddyville, and Montezuma fought the fire for about six hours.

The State Fire Marshal office is assisting with the investigation, which is still ongoing.

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